In this Nov. 6, 2017 photo, Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, leaves the federal courthouse in Washington. Manafort has sued special counsel Robert Mueller saying he exceeded authority in the Russia probe. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

New charges against ex-Trump campaign associates

More charges were laid Thursday against President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman and his business associate

Dramatically escalating the pressure and stakes, special counsel Robert Mueller filed additional criminal charges Thursday against President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman and his business associate.

The filing adds allegations of tax evasion and bank fraud and significantly increases the legal jeopardy facing Paul Manafort, who managed Trump’s campaign for several months in 2016, and longtime associate Rick Gates. Both had already faced the prospect of at least a decade in prison if convicted at trial.

The two men were initially charged in a 12-count indictment in October that accused them of a multimillion-dollar money-laundering conspiracy tied to lobbying work for a Russia-friendly Ukrainian political party.

The new charges, contained in a 32-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Virginia, allege that Manafort and Gates doctored financial documents, lied to tax preparers and defrauded banks — using money they cycled through offshore accounts to spend lavishly, including on real estate, interior decorating and other luxury goods.

The new criminal case comes a week after a separate Mueller indictment charged 13 Russians in a conspiracy to undermine the U.S. presidential election through a hidden social media propaganda effort. The charges against Manafort and Gates don’t relate to any allegations of misconduct related to Trump’s campaign, though Mueller is continuing to investigate potential ties to the Kremlin.

The charges against Manafort and Gates arise from their foreign lobbying and efforts that prosecutors say they made to conceal their income by disguising it as loans from offshore companies. More recently, after their Ukrainian work dwindled, the indictment also accuses them of fraudulently obtaining more than $20 million in loans from financial institutions.

The new indictment increases the amount of money Manafort, with the assistance of Gates, is accused of laundering to $30 million. It also charges Manafort and Gates with filing false tax returns from 2010 through 2014 and in most of those years concealing their foreign bank accounts from the IRS.

In a document that accompanied the new indictment, prosecutors said they had filed the charges in Virginia, rather than Washington where the other case is pending, because the alleged conduct occurred there and one of the defendants objected to them being brought in Washington.

The indictment comes amid ongoing turmoil in the Manafort and Gates defence camps. Manafort has been unable to reach an agreement with prosecutors over the terms of his bail and remains under house arrest, while Gates’s lawyers withdrew from the case after acknowledging “irreconcilable differences” with their client. A new lawyer, Thomas Green, entered an appearance Thursday on Gates’s behalf.

Mueller was appointed in May to investigate potential co-ordination between Russia and the Trump campaign. He took over an ongoing FBI investigation into Manafort’s foreign lobbying work.

After a two-month stretch that produced no charges, the new indictment is part of a flurry of activity for Mueller’s team within the past week.

Besides the charges against the Russians, Mueller’s team on Tuesday unsealed a guilty plea from a Dutch lawyer who admitted he lied to investigators about his contacts with Gates.

Manafort and Gates, who also worked on Trump’s campaign, both pleaded not guilty after their indictment last fall.

Two other people who aided Trump in the campaign or in the White House — former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos — have pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about their foreign contacts. Neither man has been sentenced. Both are co-operating with the investigation.

Mueller is also examining whether Trump obstructed justice through actions including the firing last May of FBI Director James Comey. His team has expressed interest in interviewing the president.

___

Associated Press writer Jeff Horwitz contributed to this report.

Eric Tucker And Chad Day, The Associated Press

Just Posted

Vancouver Island brewery re-brands again after cryptic new logo failed

Victoria-based brewers said goodbye to confusing hexagon logo

North Island College Foundation helps more students than ever in the Comox Valley

More than 170 North Island College students in the Comox Valley received… Continue reading

Courtenay mom warns of candy-luring incident near Willemar Road

A Courtenay mother is speaking out after a man was reported to… Continue reading

SLIDESHOW: Remembrance Day in Courtenay

A large crowd gathered in downtown Courtenay Sunday morning to remember those… Continue reading

Trudeau warns of dangers of nationalist leaders at historic armistice gathering

U.S. President Donald Trump in recent weeks described himself as a nationalist

Vancouver Island remembers

Important stories shared as Islanders salute those who made the greatest sacrifice

Lack of public response threatens B.C. referendum credibility

Of the few who have voted, poll finds most rejected proportional representation

Grim search for more fire victims; 31 dead across California

More than 8,000 firefighters battled wildfires that scorched at least 1,040 square kilometres

Politicians need to do better on social media, Trudeau says

Prime minister suggests at conference in Paris some are trying to use technology to polarize voters

Wally Buono exits CFL, stinging from painful playoff loss

B.C. Lions lost the Eastern semifinal to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Sunday, 48-8

Pot company hopes to replace jobs lost in mill closure in B.C. town

About 200 workers lost their jobs when the Tolko sawmill in Merritt shuttered in 2016

Funding announcement promises to drive business innovation in B.C.

Minister is scheduled to make the announcement at the Penticton campus of Okanagan College

Ticats destroy Lions 48-8 in CFL East Division semifinal

Wally Buono’s last game as B.C. coach ends in disappointment

Most Read